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A woman in Aleppo dips her finger in ink after casting her ballot A woman in Aleppo dips her finger in ink after casting her ballot  (AFP or licensors)

Syrians vote in parliamentary elections as sanctions bite

Parliamentary elections are underway in Syria, the third elections during the more than nine-year-long war.

By Nathan Morley

In all, 7,277 polling stations opened across the government-controlled areas as 1,656 candidates standing for the 250-seat parliament in Damascus.

The public are hoping for a change that could resolve the economic hardships in the country, which has been wracked by civil strife for nearly a decade.

The country is battling a harsh economic situation with tightened sanctions and a dramatic slide in the value of the Syrian pound. In some areas, food prices have increased by more than 200 percent since 2019 and currently stand at 20 times their pre-war levels.

On the streets and boulevards of Damascus, billboards are filled with posters of the candidates, many already members of the parliament looking for re-election.

Both President Assad and his wife were seen wearing Covid-19 face masks and casting their ballots at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs on Sunday morning, an event covered by state-run television.

Assad's Baath party and its allies are expected to take most of parliament's  seats.

The Assad government controls 70 percent of the Syrian territory while rebels control the Idlib Province in the north-west and the U.S.-backed Kurdish militia of the Syrian Democratic Forces control areas in the north-east.

The results are expected by late Tuesday. 

Listen to the report by Nathan Morley
19 July 2020, 16:17